A recent report by the Office for National Statistics revealed that the value of online sales increased by 14.1% in June 2016 compared with June 2015. The message is clear: Current growth in the retail sector is propped up with online purchases, and this is only expected to increase.
Consumers expect to be able to shop on any device from anywhere at any time, but allowing them to buy your products online is no longer enough. The experience must be engaging and optimized, too. One of the most effective ways to do this is with personalization, a strategy that translates the one-to-one interactions that have been so effective in the bricks-and-mortar world to the virtual store. It’s no longer a “nice to have.” In fact, 74% of online consumers have been shown to get frustrated with websites when the content (e.g. offers, ads, promotions) is not tailored to their interests.
As a merchant, you may already be thinking about how personalization can help you improve your user experience, increase conversion rates and maximize your online revenues. But the truth is, until you start to use one technology or another, you won’t know the true potential for your store. As you start that journey, be sure to consider some important best practices for these main areas of your site:
Your homepage is your shop window, but with the average web user taking only three seconds to decide whether it’s good enough to bring them in from out of the cold, it’s important that your first impression is a good one. Use personalization in the following ways to make sure your customers are tempted to delve further into your site (and closer to the checkout).
Boomerang Store welcomes customers back with personal recommendations on their homepage.
They immediately engage returning customers with a carousel of product recommendations based on their unique browsing and buying behavior. They also highlight seasonality with best sellers or a personalized selection, with products weighted toward their personal preferences. For returning customers, they list recently viewed items, which removes unnecessary friction by reducing the number of clicks between a returning customer and products they previously showed interest in.
Category pages can be daunting, particularly if you have a huge number of products to wade through (a potential reason for shoppers to bounce). Combat this with a best seller banner at the top of the page. This simultaneously highlights those items that are most likely to convert, reflects current trends, and potentially shortens the time it takes a shopper to find something of interest – all of which encourages them to make a purchase.
Here’s a great example of a best seller recommendation by Volcom:
As consumers move through the buying journey, they eventually focus their attention on a certain product type, and they begin to expect you to make recommendations based on that. This is your chance to cross-sell and upsell. Highlight both alternative and supplementary products to enable easier product discovery, but prioritize alternatives since customers are typically still in search mode while viewing product pages at this point. Research from Econsultancy has shown that upselling can drive up to 4% of sales, performing 20 times better than cross-selling, which we have also seen with our clients at Nosto.
In this example, ASOS does an excellent job of upselling with alternatives but allowing customers to accessorize with a “Shop the Look” section on a different tab.
Cart recommendations can be a contentious issue. Do they cannibalize the sales process and potentially derail that first-time buyer from completing a purchase? Or can this subtle interference help convert someone whose head is already in “ready to buy” mode? Truthfully, this depends on your customers and the engagement you have with them. Relate it back to the old-school bricks-and-mortar POS: How else could you affect someone at the till of a store without illegal subliminal messaging scattered around your shop?
If you do decide to personalize on this page, try the following:
- “Other customers bought”:
Use crowd logic to highlight what other shoppers purchasing the same items bought. Customer behavior is very telling, and when items are bought together, it often reflects natural relationships between your products.
- Budget options or accessories:
Small-ticket items that complement what a customer is already buying are a quick win. For example, if you sell electrical goods, consider promoting batteries or power adaptors. This not only maximizes your chances of increasing your AOV but also provides good customer service by ensuring they have everything they need to enjoy their new purchase.
Caliroots suggest small-ticket items relevant to the sneakers in the basket in a vertical recommendation at the side of the page.
There you have it. When used properly throughout your site, personalization can be the virtual helping hand to provide a smoother, more inspiring journey for your customers. It’s also the trend that can help you compete in this ever busier virtual world.